Professionally Designed Water Quality Reports

Community-based social marketing (CBSM) is a method that uses community resources and partnerships to promote healthy behaviors. Community-based social marketing borrows from the success of face-to-face community organizing to build online engagement around shared issues and causes. This is done by mobilizing community members to take collective action through social media.

While this may sound like a lot of work, research has shown that community-based social marketing can be an effective way to engage people in sustainable behavior change. This method can be a fun and rewarding way to connect with others who care about fostering sustainable behavior.

What Is Community-Based Social Marketing (CBSM)?

The CBSM method has been used all over the world by community-based social marketers to encourage people to adopt environmentally-friendly practices like conserving energy, recycling, and composting. Drawing from social psychology, community-based social marketing creates change through community engagement and interaction. It uses the idea that people are more likely to change their behavior when they are socially involved and when the change occurs at a community level. This method is used to create more sustainable communities around the globe.

How To Enact Change Through Community-Based Social Marketing

Creating a healthy community takes time, effort, and commitment — but it’s worth the effort to promote a sustainable future.  Start with in-depth research. This means getting to know the people who live in the community — their needs, wants, and limitations.

Select the Undesirable Behaviors 

Your first step is to identify the most undesirable behaviors that you want to change. This could be anything from throwing trash in toilets to not properly composting. When done, you can create appropriate programs or campaigns for each behavior.

A social marketing campaign needs to focus on end-state behaviors. These are actions that will produce the desired sustainable behavior change. For example, to reduce litter in your community, your end-state behavior would be to properly dispose of trash. Make sure your campaign targets that specific behavior.

Identify Barriers and Benefits

Many barriers can prevent people in your community from enacting sustainable behavior change. Some may not be aware of the issue or may not feel like they have the power to make a difference. Others may be reluctant to change their behavior or may not have the resources necessary to do so.

Community-based social marketers should uncover multiple barriers and work on developing strategies for community members to overcome the barriers and take action. Identifying barriers is an important step you can’t miss when creating a CBSM campaign.


When it comes to enabling change, research is key. You need to know what has worked in the past (and what hasn’t) in order to create a successful plan for the future. Read articles, research papers, and anything else you can get your hands on. Talk to people who have been successful in similar endeavors. With the right information, you can achieve significant influence with real and lasting change.


Observing people doing an undesired behavior allows you to understand the root causes of that behavior and its various motivations. This gives insight into how you can better intervene and provide solutions that are tailored to fit the specific needs of those individuals.

Host Focus Groups

Focus groups allow for open dialogue and opinion-sharing. Through a facilitated discussion, participants are able to share their perspectives and experiences related to the behavior and barriers that have been identified by local community change seekers. Information gathered can then be used to develop strategies for making positive changes.

Conduct a Survey

To create an effective survey, first identify the target population, taking into consideration any demographic characteristics important to the issue being surveyed. Then devise a series of multiple-choice or scale questions that address the issue. Questions should be short enough so people are not discouraged from completing them, yet provide enough detail for meaningful results.

Develop Your Strategy

Once you have compiled and evaluated all the information, it is time to create a plan for enacting change in the community. There are seven areas of focus for successfully implementing this change: commitment, social norms, social diffusion, prompts, communication, incentives, and convenience. 

  • Commitment refers to how dedicated the group or individuals leading the effort are to achieving the desired change. Without a dedication to a sustained effort over time, progress will be slow or nonexistent. 
  • Social norms refer to existing standards within a community around what behaviors are expected or accepted; in order to enact meaningful change one must understand the current social dynamics and cultural values of any given community.
  • Social diffusion describes how an idea can quickly spread through word-of-mouth and personal relationships; using such methods of communication can help ensure that information about the initiative program reaches those who need it most quickly. 
  • Commitment involves providing reminders to community members when they may forget or not be aware of something related to the initiative; things like signs or emails can serve as helpful reminders in this regard. 
  • Communication is key when trying to reach out beyond immediate networks and circles; any successful campaign needs to make sure its message spreads far enough so that everyone has access to it easily.
  • Incentives are also important when trying to drive people towards certain behavior changes; offering rewards for completing certain tasks related to an initiative can help garner more enthusiasm from the public and achieve better results overall. 
  • Convenience should always be kept in mind when planning an implementation strategy; making sure that people can interact with an initiative easily by providing clear instructions or simple tools will encourage more participation from members of the community.

It is essential for success that each of these areas is thoroughly considered and given significant attention. 

Do a Pilot Program

A pilot program will allow you to assess whether your strategies will work in practice and provide valuable insight into their potential success. Start with a small group of participants and evaluate feedback from participants to make improvements necessary before full-scale implementation. With access to data and feedback from participants, pilot programs can help ensure that resources are allocated wisely and that changes have maximum impact on all involved.

Full-Scale Implementation

After analyzing the results of the pilot, it is important to use what was learned from it to improve and iterate on the strategy before launch. Additionally, it is important to keep records throughout the process so that you can track the impact and outcomes of your efforts. Keeping detailed records on each step of your process allows you to understand both successes and failures in order to better adjust your strategy accordingly. 

With this information, you can make data-driven decisions as you progress further into enacting change in your community. Overall, having a well-thought-out plan that is tested in advance and tracked through detailed records is essential for successfully shifting community behavior in a healthier direction.

Bring Community Change With CBSM from Goldstreet 

Goldstreet’s CBSM approach helps local government bodies and communities bring about lasting change. We leverage both social and economic theories to identify the most effective strategies to improve a community’s health and well-being. Goldstreet’s approach is comprehensive, involving a variety of stakeholders in the process of change.

Goldstreet partners with local organizations and government agencies to reduce public health risks in their communities. Our goal is to help people make healthier decisions by understanding how their current behaviors are impacting their health and providing them with access to better options.

With an emphasis on data-driven solutions backed by research methods, Goldstreet evaluates its work for continued effectiveness over time to ensure that its interventions are doing what they set out to do — bringing about meaningful change for communities. Get in touch with Goldstreet today and let’s create outcomes that are cost-effective, long-term, and durable.

community based marketing